The campaign to reduce local recycling contamination by changing behavior of local residents, funded by The Lake Forest Garden Club, kicked off today with a new website, Facebook page and
Instagram (@bartthecart_lf) push, an article coming in the summer Dialogue, and soon on posters and recycling cart stickers throughout the City.
Called "Rethink Recycling" -- the campaign features animated spokesperson Bart the Cart who will help Lake Forest recyclers know what belongs -- and doesn’t belong -- in their recycling carts.
Bart’s recycling rules focus on four easy-to-follow guidelines:
● Recyclables should be well-rinsed with lids on. Food remnants contaminate the process.
● No plastic bags! They get tangled in the recycling processing equipment.
● No styrofoam and #6 plastics. They’re simply not recyclable.
● Avoid tanglers. They can damage sorting equipment.
See a fun video of Bart's Guidelines here.
According to George Pandaleon, Mayor of Lake Forest, the benefits from this effort are significant, yet an animated character can be an excellent method to communicate the campaign’s key messages.
“Utilizing Bart the Cart is an especially effective method to reach the entire family, and we would love to see Lake Forest families come together to adopt these new residential recycling guidelines. It might even be environmentally concerned youngsters that drive this program--and that would be great.”
Rethink Recycling has been in development since the campaign was announced last November at City Hall with senior members of The Lake Forest Garden Club. No one knew then that the world would soon be dealing with a pandemic that would force most of its residents to stay inside. Stay-at-home families produce much more refuse and recyclables. So the time couldn’t be better to reduce contaminated recyclables.
Mayor Pandaleon believes the Rethink Recycling will be a success because more than 90 percent of Lake Foresters already recycle, and when they know what’s at stake they’ll embrace the program.
Recycling contamination occurs when nonrecyclable materials are placed in residential recycle carts which contaminate materials that are truly recyclable, diverting them to landfills already near capacity. Not only is it an unsustainable practice, but one that has forced many communities to eliminate their recycling program.
A letter from the Mayor appearing on the Rethink Recycling website provides even more detail: “Due in large part to lower demand from international markets, recycling processing costs have dramatically increased for communities throughout the country. Lake Forest's recycling program has gone from generating a positive income of approximately $100,000 per year (please verify this number) to now requiring a subsidy of approximately $250,000 per year.”
Rethink Recycling is a two-year campaign that includes ongoing measurement and evaluation.